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 April 14, 2002 | 2300 IST

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Ronaldo double keeps
Inter on course

Simon Evans

Ronaldo scored twice as Inter Milan came from behind to beat Brescia 2-1 on Sunday and maintain their two-point lead over AS Roma in the Italian Serie A title race.

The Brazilian, twice World Player of the Year, was making his first league start for almost four months after recovering from the latest in a series of injury problems.

With three games remaining, Inter have 65 points, Roma, who beat Parma 3-1, are on 63, while third-placed Juventus, 1-0 winners over AC Milan, are a further point behind.

Inter trailed to a first-half Pep Guardiola penalty at the San Siro stadium and looked set to surrender top spot until Ronaldo turned the game on its head.

The Brazilian equalised in the 79th minute and struck the winner four minutes later with a superb 20-metre drive.

Roma kept up the pressure on Inter, with Marco Delvecchio, Antonio Cassano and Walter Samuel on target in a comfortable win over struggling Parma.

An own goal 12 minutes from time by Milan's Argentine defender Jose Chamot gave Juventus a 1-0 win at the Delle Alpi stadium to keep them in touch with the leaders.

Fiorentina were relegated to Serie B following their 1-0 home loss to Lazio.


Throughout his latest injury setback in what has been a stuttering comeback season Ronaldo has promised he would still make an impact on Inter's bid to win their first Serie A title since 1989 -- but few expected such a dramatic and crucial contribution.

After last week's home defeat by Atalanta, Inter could ill-afford another setback but their nerves were jangling when Brescia went ahead in the 29th minute.

Inter defender Marco Materazzi brought down Daniele Bonera and Spanish international Guardiola coolly converted the spot-kick.

Brescia enjoyed a surprising amount of possession and chances, with Inter goalkeeper Francesco Toldo kept busy throughout as Hector Cuper's side struggled to find a way back into the game.

But in the 79th minute Ronaldo latched on to a thoughtless back-pass from Brescia defender Alessandro Calori, rounded goalkeeper Luca Castellazzi and fired a shot against the post before reacting quickly to slot home the rebound.

Minutes later Inter's Turkish substitute Emre Belozoglu fed Ronaldo and the Brazilian's 20-metre drive flew over Castellazzi to send the 69,000 San Siro crowd wild.

The win was all the more important given Roma's comfortable win over a Parma side still facing the threat of relegation.


Delvecchio put the champions ahead in the eighth minute but four minutes later the hosts' Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta was stretchered off with a head wound after being accidentally kicked by Fabio Cannavaro.

Roma doubled their lead through substitute Cassano in the 41st minute, but two minutes later Parma struck back when Sabri Lamouchi's shot deflected into the net off Samuel.

But any threat of a Parma comeback faded when a minute after the restart defender Samuel headed in a Vincent Candela corner to restore his side's two-goal advantage.

Juventus struggled to impose themselves in a disappointing game against Milan and it was a fortunate goal that earned Marcello Lippi's side the three points.

Alessandro Del Piero whipped in a free-kick from wide on the left and Chamot's attempted clearance flew into the top corner past helpless goalkeeper Christian Abbiatti.

The result dented Milan's hopes of making fourth place, the last Champions League qualifying slot, which is now held by Chievo who came from behind for a thrilling 3-2 win at lowly Lecce.

Chievo, in their first season in Serie A, moved above Bologna who suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Piacenza.

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